From April 7 to April 12, Wikimedia Serbia organized an online global edit-a-thon on the occasion of International Roma Day. The idea was supported by WikiDonne User Group, WikiProject Women in Red, Wikimedia Sverige, Shared Knowledge and Wikimedians of Erzya language User Group. The goal of this event was to fight prejudice and discrimination against Roma people by spreading knowledge about their identity, history and culture on Wikipedia and other Wiki projects.
How the idea was born?
Roma people are the second largest national minority in Serbia. They make about two percent of the country’s total population. For many years, the idea of implementing some kind of action to involve Roma population has been circulating at Wikimedia Serbia, but until now nothing concrete has been done. Bojan, as an openly gay employee at Wikimedia Serbia, started the idea of implementing minority projects in 2017 with the “Wiki Loves Pride” and edit-a-thons related to LGBT+ topics. On the last year’s CEE Meeting in Belgrade, he announced his idea of organizing some activities related to Roma community in the near future and he was encouraged by the participants of “Diversity and Inclusion at Wikimedia Organisations” panel.
Despite the ongoing situation with coronavirus (COVID-19), Bojan was persistent in maintaining an online edit-a-thon around April 8 (International Roma Day), but the main question was whether to have it on local or global level.
“Since many events were canceled due to coronavirus, I had enough time to create a page on Meta-Wiki, do a huge research and compile a list of more than 150 article suggestions in the languages of countries with a large Roma population. Most of the chapters and user groups we contacted liked the initiative and supported the project by participating in it. Thanks to them, this edit-a-thon gained global character and it was incredibly successful.”– Bojan, Office Manager at Wikimedia Serbia
The edit-a-thon reached 50 participants from 19 language editions of Wikipedia. In total, 167 articles were written, 12 articles were improved, 24 Wikidata items were created and 18 improved. The biggest contributors were the editors from the Italian, Macedonian and Serbian Wikipedia, who enhanced the visibility of this topic by creating more than 30 new articles per language. Beside that, thanks to the involvement of Wikimedia Sverige, museums in Sweden agreed to publish under free license some of their Roma related photos. The final results can be viewed on this link.
Roma people, Europe’s largest minority, have a rich history and they have made considerable contributions to the societies where they live. Their artistic and cultural heritage is all too often ignored or unnoticed, so we are hopeful that this campaign is a step closer towards reducing of the injustice. The International Roma Day edit-a-thon will definitely become a tradition, as part of our strategic activities in gaining the knowledge equity.
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